The D.C. area Head-Fi’ers are one active bunch! This meet featured a number of interesting setups. I used my Audeze LCD-XC’s to glean these impressions.
First up was Simaudio’s Moon 230HAD. This is the little brother to the 430HAD, which I recently reviewed. The verdict? The 230HAD more than held its own against the 430HAD in a single-ended output / input configuration. It displayed the same poise and ease that I found so addicting with the 430HAD, but at a fraction of the cost. Yet my opinion of the onboard DAC hasn’t really changed – it’s fine sounding but I feel it’s somewhat constraining the performance of the 230HAD as a whole. The good news is that it can be bypassed.
Next, I had a chance to listen to the Eddie Current Black Widow, single chassis version. This was in a system with a Theta transport and Schiit Yggdrasil DAC. Out of the single-ended jack, I felt that the Black Widow disappeared in this setup, offering what basically amounted to a direct connection between the headphones and DAC. I think Eddie Current is going to be very busy building these amps for the foreseeable future.
Finally, the Metrum Acoustics Pavane made an appearance, courtesy of Linear Tube Audio / Urban Hi-Fi, probably best known in the Head-Fi community for their microZOTL 2.0 amp. I wired my own HeadAmp GS-1 (post forthcoming) to the DAC and spun up a few tracks. The sound was organic with an ease to the presentation not unlike the Simaudio headphone amps. This was my first up-close experience with a filterless DAC and it did not disappoint. Well, mostly – I thought I heard a slight masking of the overtones produced from cymbal strikes. But I’d like to caution that this was under meet conditions and I didn’t have time to do an A/B with my QB-9 DSD.
The only real disappointment was that a pair of dead tubes knocked out the right channel of a Blue Hawaii SE electrostatic headphone amp. The sound out of the left earcup of the STAX SR-007’s was pretty damn good though!